Prepare for the mini boom
Peter Joseph is CEO of The Moving Hub
The lockdown has affected our industry in an unprecedented manner and has meant conveyancers, like all other businesses, have had to consider and do many things that no disaster recovery or business continuity plans could have foreseen.
Lots of firms have taken advantage of the government’s furlough option and have reduced their staffing costs significantly to help see them through this crisis.
There has also, until recently, been a hard stop on progressing transactions and completions. These, plus other lesser factors, have led to firms struggling in their ability to keep cases progressing, leading to some cases being prioritised over others being effectively left!
In some cases, many of the larger conveyancing firms have furloughed up to 90% of their staff but, are dealing with the progressing workloads and completions from cases taken on in February, a very busy month in the industry. Therefore, they only have the resources with capacity to only deal with a very small percentage of these.
Additionally, conveyancers are having to juggle new clauses within contracts and have had to put on hold large percentages of their pipeline of work, but with no real guarantee they will proceed.
Clients or others within the chain are thinking of renegotiating or some will have had mortgage offers rescinded with reapplications difficult with reduced LTVs and restricted criteria around employment types, the self-employed or income generally.
At the same time and understandably, the questions, queries and demands from clients have gone through the roof, as it’s only to be expected as whenever confidence drops, questions increase!
For borrowers and for brokers, what has already occurred and what is due to occur whilst working through the backlog of cases and accepting new instructions, will make the decision making process of choosing a conveyancer unlikely ever to be the same again.
A bold statement, but one I fully believe. Clients and conveyancers are being forced to consider how technology can help them in the conveyancing process and are finally seeing the benefits.
Clients are now less interested in location and more interested in whether the conveyancer has a secure portal, when they are available (days and hours), what methods can be used to communicate with them and believe it or not, whether they do Skype/Zoom/Team meetings and calls.
At The Moving Hub, we have always ensured that we find the right balance between technology and a great reliable and consistent service via our conveyancing network, a balance which is so important, but also so often rare to find. Clients want to feel like they are the most important and are not just numbers and we should never forget that we are the party standing between them moving into their next home.
Technology used correctly can make the client feel connected and informed right from the instruction stage to completion. A balance we believe we have got right!
Panel management companies have had a key role to play during this pandemic, as detailed earlier and by ensuring clients are introduced to the correct firms at the right time, we have ensured those firms had the capacity to deal with not only their current work load but the cases we are giving them.
Now more than ever the relationships with our conveyancing firms, built up over the last three years is key. We need to understand what is happening within the firms at all times to allow us to place our clients work with the right conveyancers, a responsibility we all take very seriously.
Not all conveyancing firms, estate agents or panel firms will make it. The ones that have adapted, accepted and embraced technology correctly will be in for a busy time when we recover and we will recover!
Therefore, I believe there will be a mini boom eventually within the sector, clients still want to move for many reasons, lenders are slowly increasing their LTVs and money is, if you still fit the criteria is incredibly cheap… There will be high demand and maybe a shortage of stock… Could this in turn lead to potential price increases or price corrections in certain areas, only time will tell.